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Severe Weather Tips from the Red Cross

Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle providing relief after Superstorm Sandy.
With the spring storm season heating up, it’s a good time to make an emergency plan

Spring storm season is here and with another round of severe weather expected to impact South Carolina on Wednesday, the American Red Cross is urging people to prepare now. 

Weather experts report there is a risk for a significant outbreak of severe thunderstorms capable of producing destructive straight line winds, large damaging hail and tornadoes. Tornadoes could throughout the day on Wednesday. The heavy rains from these storms could cause flooding. 

“The Red Cross is encouraging residents take steps to prepare should they be affected by severe weather,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional CEO for the Red Cross in South Carolina. “With the spring storm season heating up, it’s a good time to check your emergency kit, make an emergency plan, and stay informed about changing weather conditions.” 

DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP People should download the free Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information, severe weather alerts and shelter locations available on their mobile device. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.  

Everyone in the region should listen to local news for updates and watch for signs of a storm such as darkening skies, increasing wind or lightning flashes, and they should postpone outdoor activities. If someone can hear thunder, they are close enough to be in danger from lightning – if thunder roars, go indoors. 

Households should build disaster kits with enough supplies for at least three days, including water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents. They should also have an emergency plan in which each person knows how to reach other members of the household. The plan should also include an out-of-area emergency contact person, and where everyone should meet if they can't go home. 

TORNADO SAFETY People living in areas where tornadoes may occur should know their community’s warning system and listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about any tornado watches and warnings issued. Other safety steps include: 

BEFORE THE STORM:

·         Pick a safe room – a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.

·         Move items inside that could be picked up by the wind such as lawn furniture, trash cans and hanging plants.

·         Watch for tornado danger signs such as dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud or cloud of debris, large hail, a roaring noise or funnel cloud.

DURING A TORNADO:

·         Go to an underground shelter, basement or safe room. If these are not available, go to a small windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building.

·         Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes. Do not seek shelter in the hallway or bathroom of a mobile home. If you can get to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, abandon the mobile home immediately and go to the nearest sturdy building, using your seat belt if driving. Do not wait until you see the tornado.

·         If caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you can’t get to one quickly, get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the nearest sturdy building.

·         If driving, either stay in the car with the seat belt on and put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible. Or, if you can get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, get out of the car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. 

HOW YOU CAN HELP People can give to Red Cross Disaster Relief to support disasters big and small by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.